Influential Literature on Wicca, part III.

This is the third and last post of the Wiccan literature series. (link to the first and second)

My guess is you are already tired from reading about books instead of people. And I must admit I am getting a bit tired of writing about them too. Becasue the topic is quite substantial and became huge throughout the years. Therefore I will try to squash the rest of the topic into one post only. It will be a bit more sketchy than the others.

There are only few things left now, that can be said about other books in terms of influence. But maybe the key thing here is a perspective again.

The most important factor is that I lost almost all interest in Wicca 101 books and similar about the years 2007/2008. In due time, considering the fact that I was initiated in 2004. The point is, that I myself don't consider these newer books important, because I might have lost interest in them myself. And in some cases I even did not notice their Czech publishing at all. So that is the first factor that makes my post very much biased. Another important thing is that about the same time I lost contact with most of the solitary wiccans or ecclectics. In fact, I haven't lost contact with the people. As time went, most of them actually decided to take a different route and usually became members of established druid traditions, such as OBOD and ADF or got initiated into the Wicca tradition. And many of them even forgot about the whole thing. In some cases, I might have pissed them off. Quite possible. Or they just could not bear the loss of illusions about the pagan community. (I can sympathise with that too). Or more of these things together. There are very few people that are still around after the eight or ten years that passed. Many other new and great people got involved however and the movement is growing and blossoming. And that's what matters.

For this reasons, I will not cover anything post 2006, with one exception. I am well aware of the fact that newer or other books could be much more influential than I think. I acknowledge I might be completely wrong in my perspective.

Now, what's next on the list. The third major influential book. A book considered to be the ultimate pagan book of our time by many people worldwide. Book read by thousands and thousands. To quote some of the reviews "the book that is perfect for anyone interested in Wicca, but wants to know what is it all about, without all the mumbo jumbo". This might also be a good point to practice your inner hearing and to imagine a sound of fanfare. (The Indiana Jones one might be appropriate.)

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner written by Scott Cunningham. The book came out in The Czech Republic in 2002. It was published by Fontana, a New-Age company regarded absolutely terrible by many, both in terms of translation and lay-out as well. To give you an example, all books published by this company, have numerous half-page big advertisements in the text. I am serious. Poor Cunningham, really. And similarly to the other two books I already spoke of, the title of this one has been changed. In Czech it says: Celtic Natural Magic - Wicca. 

Yup. See for yourself:

So, that's how it looks like. I think going into the reasons for the title alteration is not really meaningful. Marketing is clearly above any consideration of the topic here. It's a shame. What can I say more.

The book inspired many as far as I can tell. Both in positive and negative way. I have seen numerous references and heard many people talk about it. The way it influenced the ecclectic movement wasn't that much in terms of concrete specific practicalities. I think it was mostly the way of thinking and general approach. It definitely created lot of encouragement that resulted that many beautiful and great things that happened and keep happening. I believe this book was a break-point for many, in the sense that they started to actually do something. That is always good. Isn't ritual the very essential way to express our spirituality?

On the other hand, this book also made many young people think that if they harm none and believe in dual deity in the same time, it makes them Wiccans and the rest is "mumbo-jumbo". I am not going to discuss this deeper. Perhaps that is all it takes for some of us. Again, I know I am a minority and it is a matter of opinion and with this one I beg to differ. Well, it's a matter of spiritual roots also, but that's not the point. The most unfortunate aspect of this thinking however is the lack of opportunity for developement and reflection. My impression from many blogs, discussions and websites from the 2004/2006 period was that many of us actually took an extremely simplified version of Wiccan paradigm (or philosophy if you wish) and decided that there is nothing beyond that is even worth of consideration. I find this to be very sad. And it's why I partly blame this book for the loss of interest in Wicca or paganism in general among many people here. Or perhaps in raising interest in huge numbers of young people who weren't actually seeking a religion or spiritual life in it in the first place. Hard to say. In all honesty, I don't like this book very much, even though I recognize its value.

There has been even published the sequel in our country, in 2008 I think. Under  the name Magical Wicca. Here we go.

Needles to say now, it was the same publisher. The reception of this book was positive and I think many people have read it and used it. I personaly don't like this book either, but again there are certain aspects in it, which I do like (the idea of prayers for instance). From my point of view, the problem with these two books is not the way they are written. It is the way they are usually understood. Scott Cunningham makes a very clear point in the sequel, that Wicca is not as simple as 'do it the way you like, no matter what'. He points towards the origin of the ecclectic movement and makes a clear statement that there are certain concepts and boundaries outlined by the Wicca initiatory tradition itself and that we should stick to the general way of thinking and using of symbology, ritual framework etc. Becasue that is the only way to keep the whole thing meaningful. My impression still is that many people in this country did not read this part at all.

The first book inspired me, however. It inspired me to write and publish a book myslef in 2005. It is called Wicca, the First Initiation and it is a story of how I got into the whole thing, vaguely resembling the Farrars book I wrote about in the first part. It was published by Volvox Globator, a company that often publishes literature on western mysticism, philosophy and similar topics. The book provides an alternative view on the subject and puts it into European perspective. It's not very descriptive, sometimes it's even stupid and there isn't that much useful information. But my guess is it was influential too, because many people I know have it and the reception of it was fairly ambivalent in pretty much equal mixture of love/hate. I am not going to comment on it further, because the level of bias would probably be very inappropriate. Yes, even for this blog.

Then there are few more books that came up later (I mean 2005 and onwards). They contributed mostly with practicalities and did not cause any major shifts in the movement I would have noticed. The only one of those I would like to mention is written by Silver RavenWolf. Funny name, I know.

Anyway, the book is called Solitary Witch: The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation. In Czech it is called simply The Book of Shadows. And it looks damn cool.

The Czech title on the cover says "Famous and Ancient Book of Shadows for Wisewomen and Witches". Well, anything I would say about these ajectives from my point of view would be probably cheap and unnecessary, so let's move on. This book was published by Pragma in 2006. I was quite amazed that despite the relatively high level of awareness and information in the community in 2005/2006 period, they still went for a title like this.  My overall  impression is that this book did lot leave much of trace in the ecclectic movement. Most people even refused to believe that this book is 'ancient', which is a good sign. Even teenagers (which this book clearly targeted at) didn't believe it. I haven't seen or heard many people referring to this book in any specific way - only as a general resource. I myself haven't even finished reading it, but quite a number of websites recommends it. So it probably has a value and it seems to contain lots of practical information that have been adopted and used.

To end up in positive spirit, the almost last book, read by many which I would see as worth mentioning, was written by Ly de Angeles. The name is Witchcraft: Theory and Practice. It is a bit older than the previous one. It was published by a New Age company called Dobra in 2003. The book looks like this:

The book itself does not explicitly refer to Wicca. But again, many people interested in the subject have it and read it. Some of them use the book as a practical resource and I believe it also provided a good alternative to the other books I have already mentioned. Quite a few of the grown-up ecclectic witches I know (or used to know) use this book as one of the main sources of information for their work. I personaly would call this book the very basis without any "mumbo-jumbo". It is the natural magic and witchcraft in its essence without the necessity of limiting itself by one particular tradition. I find the book very sensible and definitely consider it one of those that contributed to the overal down-to-earth approach which can be seen among many ecclectics in this country.

The very last one. Written by Anne Cameron - Daughters of Copper Woman. This one was somewhat influential in the Goddess spirituality area and I am very thankful it was published in The Czech Republic. I believe it is a very sensible alternative to the books by Starhawk or Suzan Budapest. I think it is remarkable book. And our version looks like this.

It was published by Stehlik in 2003.

So, to my knowledge, the Czech ecclectic movement has been mostly inspired by Buckland, Cunningham and Ly de Angeles. It could have been better and it could have been much worse. I myslef see it quite positive overall.

And with that I would like to conclude this super-long threefold blog post. I did not think it would be that long. But somehow I found myself writing about any tiny detail and expressing many unnecessary opinions based on nothing else than impressions. Well, sory for that. I think it won't be any better.

Rest assured, I won't review any pagan book for couple of years now.

So, again. If there is anything about the pagan community in the Czech republic or my opinions you would like me to elaborate upon in detail (whether it's Czech/pagan context or not), please leave a comment, or get in touch vie Facebook or e-mail, should you have my contact information. As long as it's interesting and not academic, I am most happy to blog about it.

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